Harry Potter and the Narrow-Minded Muggles
Abstract: The writer has an answer for Potter-bashers everywhere.
Although it has been two years since the last Harry Potter book was released, conservatives and liberals still have strong negative opinions about the series’ presentation of witchcraft, wizardry, and beyond. With the release of MuggleNet.com’s Harry Potter Should Have Died many unanswered questions emerged even after the series’ end, driving Potter bashers everywhere to take up arms once again and push their own negative opinions about the series forward. For the most part, I believe these Harry Potter critics are blinded by the imagination that J.K. Rowling surrounds her novel with – but if they opened their minds and eyes a little wider they would realize the many wonderful things that this series has taught its readers.
Conservative Pro-Family Christian groups fought hard to remove the Harry Potter books from the shelves of libraries and take them out of school classrooms. These groups were afraid that the positive spin on witchcraft would make children stray from their Christian roots. But what conservative Christians fail to realize is that the magic taught in Harry Potter is extremely imaginative and holds no secret innuendos of practicing the WICCA or paganism faiths. Thus, Children may read how students in the series make squirrels grow wings and fly, how to make their least favorite person in the world suddenly have a really bad case of acne, or how to make a full-size object suddenly become as small as an ant; but there is no hidden message saying come to the dark side in these types of spells, charms, and incantations. Though there is decidedly evil magic expressed in the books, it has consequences if it is used that are punishable by law and in Hogwarts with detention and even expulsion.
Many conservative Christians argue that the Potter books are anti-family. In reality, its outlook on family life jumps off the pages by contrasting two major families: the Durselys and the Weasleys. The Dursely family, which is Harry’s blood relation, treats Harry rather cruelly; giving him harsh Christmas or Birthday presents, making him sleep under the stairs in a small cupboard, and forcing him to wear his cousin’s hand-me-downs, which are twice the size that Harry is. They hit and yell at him constantly. He can never do anything right according to the Dursely family and moreover is forbidden to talk to his friends when he returns from school. JK Rowling’s depiction of the Durselys’ neglect shows her readers that this sort of treatment is not what a family should be like and it shows what some children in the world may be going through in their own families. And yet, the Weasleys are a nurturing, caring, and fun family in the books who take in Harry as their own at several points during his journey. With nine months to feed and a house resembling a “large stone pigpen,” this family takes nothing for granted. It doesn’t matter where the Weasleys live or how they live – all they care about is having a roof over their heads and staying together. They love one another unconditionally and immediately show Harry that he can be loved in the same way. If anything, the Weasleys are the definition of good family values.
Liberals attack the Harry Potter books for their supposed sexism. They perceive that the world of Harry Potter is ruled by men who have high positions – Albus Dumbledore the Headmaster of Hogwarts School being one of them – while women have positions such as secretary to the Minister of Magic (also male). These men, however, besides the beloved headmaster, are heavily despised, are idiots, or have skeletons in their closets just waiting to burst out (many times it can be a combination of all three). Moreover, one of the male characters, Hagrid, holds a very low-level position as Gamekeeper of Hogwarts – (a very unique sort of overseer of the creatures found in the Forbidden Forest) – and is beloved by students and teachers alike.
All of the women in the Hogwarts School are respected, extremely intelligent, and with the exception of Professor Trelawney the eccentric divination teacher, are liked by all. One such woman in power is Professor McGonagall, the most authoritative teacher in Hogwarts school who tolerates no rule-breaking. Another is Madam Pomfrey, the very talented school nurse who can treat something as little as a bug bite with no problem and treat something as serious as re-growing bones at the same. In addition, women receive their end in the sports of Potter, too, like star players Alicia Spinnet, Katie Bell, and Angelina Johnson on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. And if that isn’t enough, Hermione Granger, one of Harry’s best friends, is the best in her class, adored by her teachers who support her love of learning, and is the best and bravest witch in all of Hogwarts always helping Harry to find the answer to every puzzle he encounters and aiding in the fight against Voldemort.
The Harry Potter book series has made girls of all ages believe that they can be as strong, brave, and quick-witted as Hermione Granger and still be feminine. It has also shown boys of all ages that being tough and manly is not the only characteristic of becoming a man. Ron Weasley is Harry’s best friend and isn’t afraid to show his feelings of apprehensiveness, anxiety, and confusion. He is sweet, shy, and often one of the funniest voices in the text. He also learns how to not only make the best choices but also the right choices. It also shows the strength of education as teachers at Hogwarts School believe that every student is capable of learning and whatever career each student chooses for themselves is fully supported by their teachers tenfold. What Harry Potter bashers everywhere do not understand is that, most importantly, the books have dragged millions of children away from the television set and onto a couch, a bed, or even a living room rug with a book in their hand and their nose buried inside of it – something that parents and educators could only ever dream for their children to do.
J.K. Rowling created a book about a boy who is like any other child, teenager, or even adult in the world we call home. He wants acceptance from his peers and elders and he wants love from his friends and family. He learns that the power of the heart can be stronger than any power in the world. He possesses what most adults try to reach for in their lifetimes: modesty, quiet confidence, and the courage to sacrifice himself for his loved ones; something that many religious faiths are fond of. Harry is kind, strong, and values friendship more than anyone in the world. He is a good person and loved by readers young and old because they can relate and look up to him.
Though the Harry Potter book series has ended, people must realize that the lives of the children and adults who have read the books have changed for the better. Its everlasting effect on the world’s eager readers will stay in cultural discourse forever. Millions of Harry Potter fans have piled into bookstores to read this piece of fiction not only because it excites the imagination, but also because it opens the mind to the many things that are important in life: love, friendship, and family. In the end, these are the things we want our children to understand the most.